Saturday, April 03, 2010

Owl networking

My local great horned owls, both at Lake Isabella and Symmes Township Park, seem to have taken the year off from parenting. This isn't uncommon, but I've been lost not having nests to watch obsessively.(Notice how I said they were "my" owls?)

When I read on Facebook (that evil place that is killing my blog) that Ann Oliver had spotted great horned owl chicks at Rapid Run Park and alerted Jeff so he could band them, I knew how to spend Saturday morning.

Disapproval starts early.

Ann has mad skills when it comes to providing a crowd with sweet breakfast assortment of danishes and donuts, coffee, juice,

...and this insanely awesome tablecloth.

And up Jeff goes:

I was thrilled to be able to actually assist in the banding today, helping with the raising and lowering of ropes, the bag containing the chicks, general go-fering. Since I want to be able to do this myself someday, it was great to get my hands in and really help. And learn.

Though I hold Sylvester all the time:(Of which he disapproves, but tolerates)
...I had never held a owl chick before today.
These chicks weren't the small and relatively docile age that I have seen before. These guys were approaching 5 weeks old, and they

This mantling is typical behavior, to make themselves appear larger.
But since these guys were older, they had better use of their feet and I had to watch out for a bit of lunging and biting, too.
I was over the moon, though. Being a part of this, handling these mixtures of cute and dangerous, well. It was flippin' fantastic.

Jeff mentioned a behavior he has observed in other nests that is as funny as it is mysterious.
The first chick is banded and then lowered to the ground. The second chick is banded and also lowered to the ground. They are separated for no more than a few minutes, but when they are reunited, they act like they have never seen each other before. They mantle and hiss as if a fierce war is about to commence.
Do they actually "forget" each other in those few minutes? Or are they just in defense mode, at any thing that is close by?

Ann was inspiring to watch. As dog walkers walked by, she engaged them in conversation, and let them look through her scope at the adult owl watching us from a distance.

Ann and the Owlet
Ann doesn't have a blog to link to. Yet another poor dope. :)

Through all the activity surrounding her nest and babies, Mama Owl sat in a nearby conifer and pretended to sleep.


Catbird said...

Hissing baby owls in turkey mode -- that's my kind of fun. I think the mix of cute and dangerous is what makes cats so appealing. They're loving, adorable, and armed. Cat's ain't for sissies, and neither, apparently, are owls.

Facebook's only partially evil. Without it, you wouldn't've spent your morning with Ann, which led to this swell blog entry. I'd better shove off -- it's my night to placate the social networking gods. Hopefully, I won't get chicken feathers up my nose like last time.

KatDoc said...

Looks like it was a great time! Sorry I had to work and miss the fun. If you think Facebook is a blog-killer, try working 6 days a week, two weeks in a row. I can't get nuthin' done.


NatureWoman said...

Wow, looks like a really fun time! I am so loving your pics. Your new camera rocks!

Mary said...

Are our blogs really dying? I think mine is... I've never seen fiercer owls ;-)

dguzman said...

You are SO effing cool!

Dave said...

Hey girl, get off Facebook and put up some more post!

littleorangeguy said...

Any wisdom on why the mother just watched, and didn't do anything protective or aggressive?

Susan Gets Native said...

Sara: Probably too many people around. They won't barrel into a big crowd of humans.

Unknown said...

I'm one of the regular "dog walkers" at the park. Just wanted you to know it appears the owls at back at the old nesting site (the metal "pan" has been occupied for several weeks now). I hope the produce chicks and are non aggresive. In years past, one of the adult chicks took up resdience and was swooping down on my white german shepherd.